Proposed lower Crab Creek dam to flood lakes Lenice, Nunnally, Merry

Discussion in 'Stillwater' started by Kent Lufkin, Oct 2, 2007.

  1. Jeff R

    Jeff R New Member

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    From the Center for Environmental and Legal Policy::thumb:

    Help stop the Crab Creek Dam – protect wildlife and promote water conservation.

    The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is seeking public comment on a new study looking for "new water" to serve the Odessa Subarea in central Washington (for more about the Odessa Subarea, see below). The Study proposes several water supply options including flooding lower Crab Creek, raising and/or lowering Banks Lake, flooding two coulees, and operational changes. The State of Washington is funding the Bureau to conduct this study.

    Click here for the Bureau of Reclamation's Odessa Subarea Special Study (OSSS)

    Comment deadline is Saturday, December 15.

    Please send an e-mail, letter or fax to the Bureau and make the following points:

    1) Lower Crab Creek is a valuable wildlife and recreational area, not a damsite. Lower Crab Creek needs to be taken off the table as an option for a new dam and reservoir.

    2) The water future of the Columbia River watershed requires sensible water policies, including water conservation and a policy of pricing water to equal its value. Conservation should be mandatory and aggressive. We must stop wasting water.

    3) The cost of moving water to the Odessa Subarea is too high -- up to $33,000 per acre according the Bureau's most recent cost estimates (click here). Expanding the Columbia Basin Project will be a huge expense for taxpayers and ratepayers.

    Spending billions of dollars on new water projects is not a remedy for wasting water.

    Send your comments to:

    Ellen Berggren, Study Manager
    studymanager@pn.usbr.gov

    Mail: 1150 North Curtis Road, Suite 100, Boise, ID 83706
    Fax: 208.378-5102

    _______________________________

    Background on the Odessa Subarea

    For more detail on the history and status of the Odessa Subarea, click here.

    The Odessa Subarea (located between Moses Lake and Ritzville) is one of the driest spots in the state of Washington. The area was originally settled by dry land wheat farmers. In the 1960's, farmers began to pump from big, new irrigation wells and diversified their crops – but water users and state water regulators immediately noticed a drop in groundwater levels.

    The decline in Odessa Subarea groundwater has continued to this day. In fact, in the early 1970s the State of Washington adopted a rule that deliberately allowed groundwater mining at the rate of 10 feet per year. Now, thirty-five years later, just as predicted, the bottom is dropping out of the Odessa Subarea Aquifers.

    Odessa Subarea water supply problems are now being used as a rationale by Washington state and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to propose construction of the “second half” of the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project. The Bureau’s Odessa study is built on the idea of taking more water out of the Columbia River and giving it to farmers as a subsidy – much the same way the Columbia Project is now being run. The Columbia Project, by the way, is one of the most heavily subsidized federal irrigation projects in the country.

    Odessa area farmers claim they are “entitled” to receive federal water project subsidies because the "second half" of the Columbia Project was promised, but never built. This is not supported by the historic record – in 1946, Odessa-area farmers withdrew 300,000 acres, nearly a third of the project total, effectively halting construction of the east side of the project. Claims of entitlement also fail to ignore the public costs, including subsidies and impacts to endangered salmon – problems that halted project expansion in the 1980s, and that continue to persist today. Finally, dam proponents overstate the value of Odessa-area crops, frequently citing a WSU report that itself acknowledges the unlikelihood of the "worst case scenario" that shows up in Bureau documents and agency press releases.

    It is not acceptable for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to drown Lower Crab Creek in order to salvage Odessa Subarea farmers. Lower Crab Creek is extremely valuable as wildlife habitat, and has its share of family farms that would be taken by eminent domain and lost beneath the reservoir. The Bureau of Reclamation needs to take Lower Crab Creek off the table as a water supply option for the Odessa Subarea.

    Links:

    U.S. Bureau of Reclamation: Odessa Subarea Special Study
    CELP: Crab Creek Dam
    CELP: Odessa Aquifers -- Crisis in Sustainability
    CELP: Washington State's Dam-Building Program
     

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